Third Sunday of Easter

Busy. Many of you who have been trying to get hold of or schedule meetings with me know that during Lent I was running in about ten directions at the same time. Unfortunately, this caused me to postpone a lot of work that would normally get done until after Easter. Then Easter passed, and I took a couple days to rest before facing up to all the work postponed. But somehow something always comes up to complicate the weeks after Easter. This week we have the annual convocation where the priests of the diocese get together (overnight) for two and a half days of meetings and fellowship. To complicate matters more, this weekend I’m officiating at my niece’s wedding and hosting out-of-town family—which is all good, but the work continues pile up. So, my apologies for not being as available as I should be. Next week, I promise… Which reminds me of an anecdote about Pope St. John XXIII. Supposedly a reporter asked the Pope how he slept at night, and St. John responded: “I sleep very well. Before I go to bed I tell the Holy Spirit, I was in charge all day, now it’s your turn.” So ask the Holy Spirit to help me do a better job of managing my responsibilities, and to trust Him to make up for my deficiencies. Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles

 

Pope Francis, General Audience

Wednesday of Holy Week, April 23, 2014

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

This week is the week of joy: we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a true and deep joy founded on the certainty that the Risen Christ shall never die again; rather, he is alive and at work in the Church and in the world. This certainty has abided in the hearts of believers since that first Easter morning, when the women went to Jesus’ tomb and the angels asked them: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5). “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”. These words are like a milestone in history; but are also like a “stumbling block” if we do not open ourselves to the Good News, if we think that a dead Jesus is less bothersome that a Jesus who is alive! Yet how many times along our daily journey do we need to hear it said: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”. How often do we search for life among inert things, among things that cannot give life, among things that are here today and gone tomorrow, among the things that pass away … “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”.

We need this when we shut ourselves in any form of selfishness or self-complacency; when we allow ourselves to be seduced by worldly powers and by the things of this world, forgetting God and neighbor; when we place our hope in worldly vanities, in money, in success. Then the Word of God says to us: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”. Why are you searching there? That thing cannot give you life! Yes, perhaps it will cheer you up for a moment, for a day, for a week, for a month … and then? “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”. This phrase must enter into our hearts and we need to repeat it. Shall we repeat it three times together? Shall we make the effort? Everyone: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”. [He repeats it with the crowd]. Today when we return home let us say it from the heart in silence and let us ask ourselves this question: why in life do I seek the living among the dead? It will do us good.

It is not easy to be open to Jesus. Nor is it a given that we shall accept the life of the Risen One and his presence among us. The Gospel shows us different reactions: that of the Apostle Thomas, that of Mary Magdalene and that of the two disciples of Emmaus: it does us good to compare ourselves with them. Thomas places a condition on belief, he asks to touch the evidence, the wounds; Mary Magdalene weeps, she sees him but she does not recognize him, she only realizes that it is Jesus when he calls her by name; the disciples of Emmaus, who are depressed and feeling defeated, attain an encounter with Jesus by allowing that mysterious wayfarer to accompany them. Each one on a different path! They were seeking the living among the dead and it was the Lord himself who redirected their course. And what do I do? What route do I take to encounter the living Christ? He will always be close to us to correct our course if we have strayed.

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5). This question enables us to overcome the temptation to look back, to what was yesterday, and it spurs us on to the future. Jesus is not in the sepulchre, he is Risen! He is the Living One, the One who always renews his body, which is the Church, and enables it to walk by drawing it towards Him. “Yesterday” is the tomb of Jesus and the tomb of the Church, the tomb of truth and justice; “today” is the perennial Resurrection to which the Holy Spirit impels us, bestowing on us full freedom.

Today this question is also addressed to us. You, why do seek the living among the dead, you who withdraw into yourself after a failure, and you who no longer have the strength to pray? Why do you seek the living among the dead, you who feel alone, abandoned by friends and perhaps also by God? Why do you seek the living among the dead, you who have lost hope and you who feel imprisoned by your sins? Why do you seek the living among the dead, you who aspire to beauty, to spiritual perfection, to justice and to peace?

We need to hear ourselves repeat and to remind one other of the angels’ admonition! This admonition: “Why do you seek the living among the dead” helps us leave behind our empty sadness and opens us to the horizons of joy and hope. That hope which rolls back the stones from tombs and encourages one to proclaim the Good News, capable of generating new life for others. Let us repeat the Angels’ phrase in order to keep it in our hearts and in our memory, and then let everyone respond in silence: “Why do you seek the living among the dead”… Behold, brothers and sisters, He is alive, He is with us! Do not go to the many tombs that today promise you something, beauty, and then give you nothing! He is alive! Let us not seek the living among the dead! Thank you.

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